Friday, October 22, 2010

Annie Died Too Young

Annie was in her fifties, fifty four when she died. We cremated her as was her wish and I got a bottle of her ashes from Columbus, Ohio where she lived at the last. I took that bottle to Newport, Oregon, where in 1985, after two years of living together in Mountain View, Ca and then in Portland, Or, actually most of three, we were married by my mother, a minister.

I have posted two photos. The first shows Ann standing upper left. This was in better times. Next to her standing is my Aunty Nan (never Nancy), who considered Ann among her best friends. The last move Nan made was to Portland to be near us, especially near Ann. At the far right you will see Fran Springhetti. Fran moved to Newport not too long after we did in 1975. She got work in the Children Services office there alongside Annie and later became supervisor there for a short while. During this time Fran became Ann's best friend, at least in the Social Work business. Later Fran retired from that work and among other things remodeled our house when we bought one and opened a coffee retail business called Coffee Concerto.

Seated is my mother. She too moved to Portland to retire from her ministry. She kept active in ministerial duties, going on trips to offer seminars and trainings and was given the title of chaplain to the local Unity School Ministers to maintain her IRS business exemptions and her manse write offs. I live in her house now.

All four of these women are gone now. Fran and Nan both died of cancer. My mother had a stroke and died in three days, in January of 2001. In October of 2001 Ann died of kidney failure as the autopsy put it. She was found dead a few days later in her own apartment. Nan lived a few more years, but all died fairly young except my mother who was most of the way to eighty when she died.

The second photo is of me. I took my then current lover and my oldest friend (he stood for me when Ann and I married and later I stood for him when he married) and went to the main beach in Newport as I wrote before. Isabel was there too. She was Carroll's mate, and they were together longer than Ann and I were, but they married far later in their lives together. That is of course, Annie's ashes leaving the bottle. She is also placed in the back of the house we bought together, out in front of this one, up at Willamette National Cemetery where I go sometimes to visit her and her uncle and aunt also buried there. I also have kept a small portion of her and she sits in her bottle where these pictures are also on display, but in a room only I go into. This house is only mine, I have almost no visitors here. That room is even more private.

Annie Died Too Young

With my friends I took
as you gave me your ashes
to Newport, the beach
we would walk early
in our years together, when
we had no money
nor did we know what

would come. I dug a tideline
hole for you, there placed
your dream as it poured
from the long green glass a thin
ashy stream as we
who knew you witnessed
the tide come for you and take
away from us all

old false empty hope.

August 3, 2009 12:56 PM


  1. Dearest Christopher...

    I haven't many words tonight...

    With this post you just let us into that private room.

    I feel very still and quiet.

    Thank you so much sharing your life.

    Love from Liz.

  2. I was feeling
    what Liz wrote, as I read this.
    The door opened.

    And I saw you.

    When I cry now what does it mean?

    Only that.
    only that.

    Your poem is beautiful. Somehow it strikes me as sustenance from the spoon, as though my body is sick and I know that if I can just eat this, I will live.

    much much love, christopher

  3. namaste(helloo in hindi) christopher,

    i'm new to your side of the wall here...and the very first time i'm posting ...there isn't really much that can be said after reading this....i think no words would qualify .....

    by this you let us into your life....which is profound...

  4. Thank you, all. It is a risk to be this naked. Your reverence is an honor to me, a support to my dignity. It is one of the true gifts of poetry that it can lift our communication out of the small and ordinary into the antechambers that surround the heart of the temple.

    It is the purpose of ceremony as well. When we went to Newport it was from the Portland Metro area that we departed, so there was a pilgrim's journey of several hours. We really did encounter the fog for that is not the early morning fog in the picture, but is the weather of midday on the year's anniversary of Anne's passing. I dressed differently from my habit, conscious that I was going to be entering into ceremony. The moment recorded in this second photo is not a moment of ordinary time. It is a moment of sacred time.

  5. A beautiful photo of you.

    I love the idea of being washed away by the sea like that.

    Yes, poems must make a safe space.

  6. The photo of you holds all the poems emotion in the colors. It is simply stunning in simplicity. The warmth of your jacket, the blue of jeans as sea, the cloak of misty air, the hole...dug and spread. Beautiful and haunting. Your love and sincerity is touching.

  7. (((Lucy)))

    Annie, you may see why I am fond of your name. Thank you for your sense of things. This month is the ninth anniversary of my wife's passing. I still think like that even though we had been divorced for five years by then. The poem however was written a year ago last August and was not an anniversary poem.

  8. Christopher, very poignant indeed.

    Your mother has a look of mischief and wisdom in this photo.

    And the poem is...I don't know. Like a little stone picked up by the sea, round and worn and perfect.

  9. Jarvenpa, thank you for your kind words. My mother was one of a kind. That's not all good news, but I can say with complete confidence that there are many people on the planet who were changed for the better by her presence in their lives. In certain places they still remember her. Along the way, she got a bit of recognition and she worked very hard for it.

  10. oh, my.


    no words. i am leaving a stone.

  11. Christopher! i was just trying to calm myself down, and now i see this photo of you. You are not helping :D, now i am over the top excited, and can't read a word of your posts. I have to come back later when i am calmer, to do just that. xxx

  12. But Jozien, that photo is of me in 2002. I am in a time of life where big changes happen in fairly short time. I don't look like that.

  13. :) does it matter?
    it's all beautiful


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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